San Carlos looks for answers after PG&E shuts down pipeline

FILE -- A massive fire roars through a mostly residential neighborhood in San Bruno, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010. A massive fire burned homes as it roared through a mostly residential neighborhood in the hills south of San Francisco following a loud explosion Thursday evening that shot a fireball more than 1,000 feet into the air and sent frightened residents fleeing for safety, witnesses said. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

October 7, 2013 9:42:56 PM PDT
The power is off but frustration is still boiling over in San Carlos.

Pacific Gas and Electric was ordered to shut down a gas pipeline after information surfaced about the safety of its welds.

"Our pipeline is safe," said PG&E spokesperson Brittany Chord.

"I wonder what the question would have, or answer would have been if you had asked them that the day before, if something happened in San Bruno," said San Carlos Mayor Bob Grassilli.

For PG&E, San Bruno is the fatal natural gas pipeline explosion that keeps giving the public utility more headaches.

This latest chapter began last week, when the city of San Bruno learned of an internal PG&E memo from an unnamed engineer who questioned a similar 3.8 mile line, running beneath Brittan Avenue.

The city responded by declaring a threatened state of emergency, then went to court and forced PG&E to depressurize the line. That process began over the weekend, and concluded Monday afternoon. But the debate continues.

"Well, the pipeline was hydro-tested in September of 2011. So, this email was about a year later -- after a leak was found and repaired on this pipeline," said Chord.

"Where is the test to confirm the test?" asked San Carlos City Manager Jeff Maltbie.

"We commissioned a metallurgical report after the employee's email was sent. That metallurgical report found that the pipeline, in addition to the hydrostatic pressure test, was operating safely," said Chord.

"How can they claim that it's safe if they don't even know what they have in the ground?" asked Maltbie.

With the line pressured down, the neighborhood is safe. And, PG&E has rerouted gas into homes using other main lines. It says service will not be disrupted to customers.